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Old warehouse burns at port

A three-alarm fire swept through an abandoned shipyard in the Port of Tampa on Tuesday night, caused by a stray spark from a demolition worker's torch, Tampa fire officials said.

No one was injured in the fire.

Construction steel stored at one end of the 60,000-square-foot warehouse was not affected by the blaze, Tampa Port Authority officials said.

Flames engulfed the top story of the two-story warehouse west of the intersection of 20th and Grant streets, making the fire visible from downtown. About 45 firefighters worked for more than five hours to contain the fire in the building, District Fire Chief Matt Ballaban said.

Working from outside, firefighters sprayed water inside to prevent the fire from spreading to occupied buildings, such as the Tampa Port Authority offices, Ballaban said.

The blaze was seen just after 6 p.m. by a security guard, said Steven Fidler, operations manager for the Tampa Port Authority.

"I saw a small flame. Five minutes later, one whole bay was in flames," said Larry Hillman, a security guard for the past 12 years.

Workers had begun tearing down the 60,000 square foot building on Monday. They were using acetylene torches to cut through the steel support structure, Fidler said.

A spark ignited wood in the structure or other debris, Fidler said.

The building, built for the Navy during World War II, had not been used recently, he said.

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